The ring is the paper band that surrounds the cigar, where the tobacco brand is identified. They are also known by the name of vitolas, although in reality it is a wrong name because the vitola is the cigar format.
There are several stories that tell different versions about the origin of the use of the rings. Some say they were used to prevent smoker´s gloves from staining when holding cigars. Others affirm that they arose to cover the small thread with which the layers of cigars were held in the 18th century, while many say that their use responded to the need to differentiate some Habanos from others, making it difficult to imitate them through lithographic decoration of its rings.
The truth is that the rings were very useful for the tobacco industry in the last decades of the 19th century, because they allowed each cigar to be identified in order to avoid the fraud and counterfeiting that were generated as a result of the increase in massive exports from Cuba to Europe and the United States. They also meant the possibility of showing the seal of their manufacturers and thus beginning to differentiate the brands, with an accessory or ornament that gave the tobacco a luxurious touch.
Very soon, designing and making the rings became a highly appreciated lithographic art, and sometimes true masterpieces were created. Frequently, with the aim of attracting the market public that wanted to penetrate, the rings were designed with the faces of personalities, landscapes or notable events that could most flatter the smokers of the countries to which the export was destined; It was also customary to use names of places such as associations or elegant clubs and various events such as baseball games, horse races and theater plays, among others.
According to historians and other experts, the golden age of rings spans a period of approximately 50 years, from its beginnings in the 1970s of the 19th century to the second decade of the 20th. A time when rings of great artistic quality were created, which acquired great value for collectors, a hobby that very soon began to develop among smokers as an emblem of an activity full of symbols of a time.
Vitolfilia is the name by which the hobby of collecting rings or vitolas is known, an activity to which some smokers and cigar lovers are engaged, who keep these interesting pieces of paper as an invaluable treasure.